Sports Massage for Runners

Sports Massage for Runners
Lauren providing sports massage at a running event in Cornwall

Sports massage for runners

In this blog Lauren explains the many benefits of massage, particularly sports massage for runners………

There are a variety of recovery methods that people use which influence on muscle fatigue recovery caused by strenuous exercises, such as marathons or ultra-marathons. One of the main recovery strategies for marathon runners is massage therapy. Regular massages can be used in the duration of training for a marathon. This helps keep the body at its best possible state. Massage therapy can be provided days, weeks or months previous to a marathon. Or even after a marathon has taken place.

After a marathon has taken place, substantial muscle damage is often caused due to the overload on muscles due to fatigue. Massage therapy will help to increase blood circulation, minimise lactic acid through rapid toxin removal. Massage also helps restore range of motion, increase relaxation and reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. All these components allow the body to facilitate injury healing and enhance the speed of recovery from strenuous exercise.

How does sports massage help runners?

Increase blood circulation

Massage will increase blood flow throughout the body due to dilation (expanding) of the blood vessels.  This allows the muscles keep well oxygenated with the supply of fresh blood. Due to the increase of the blood flow, it allows the oxygenated blood to move around the body more frequently. This helps to enhance recovery in the way of a quicker and faster healing process allowing fluids and nutrients to pass through the muscles.

Sports massage restores range of motion for runners

The reaction of massage and the increased circulation helps the soft tissue to become more flexible, especially ligaments and tendons as they don’t have the same elasticity as muscles do. The overall outcome is to separate the fibres according to their direction, which helps to improve flexibility and prevent injury. Massage will ensure muscles will become warmer. This will allow the muscles, tendons and ligaments to become more flexible and will become longer.


Increase relaxation and reduction in muscle tension

Sports massage applied skilfully can increase the sense of well-being, by inspiring and encouraging the release of endorphins, and decreasing levels of stress hormones(Cortisol). Calming and comforting outcome on the nervous system, can reduce muscle tension, therefore re-energising the release of endorphin, which can improve or develop an individual’s mood. The release of endorphin will help relax the body when a client has a massage. Massage reducing muscle tension due to the calming and comforting feeling of relaxation often helps to control your breathing.


 Reduce muscle soreness and fatigue

Sports massage will also help to break down scar tissue and realign muscle fibres that were previously damaged through injury occurrence or a general onset leading to injury. Sports massage is also great for stimulating nerve endings and decreasing neurological excitability (nerves more relaxed). All these key components will help decrease pain, reduce muscle spasms, reduce muscle tension, increase joint range of motion and increase flexibility.


 Rapid toxin removal and tissue permeability

 Sports massage will increase tissue permeability, allowing the pores in tissue membranes to open, which helps fluids and nutrients to pass through. This helps to remove waste products, such as lactic acid, which encourages the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients, which will aid in recovery. For example, our body produces lactic acid in the muscle tissues during strenuous exercise like marathons. During strenuous exercise, a lactic acid build-up occurs when the body is producing low levels of oxygen going to the muscles. This affects the breakdown of glucose and glycogen. This can cause the experiences of muscle pain, muscular fatigue and muscle cramps during or after the marathon.


Reduce the risk of injury occurrence

The following factors will reduce the risk of injury occurrence during running training and during big events:

  • Improve blood circulation
  • minimising lactic acid through rapid toxin removal
  • help in restoring range of motion,
  • increase relaxation,
  • reduce muscle soreness and fatigue

Sports massage therapy can help achieve all of these things.  Regular massage therapy, such as sports massage will also help to break down scar tissue and realign muscle fibres. These may have been previously damaged during marathon training or after the marathon event.

The London Marathon website has some great tips for marathon training.

Benefits of sports massage therapy for runners during training, pre-marathon event and post-marathon event

 During marathon training

 Massage, particularly sports massage can be a key part of the preparation for the big event. Massages increase range of motion and relieve sore muscles and therefore can be a key component in any form of running training. Regular massages during training can help identify problem areas early. As well as identifying biomechanical issues through assessment, before they become out of control.

 Pre- Marathon Event

We usually recommend massage 2-3 days before a marathon event, as the body often needs to recover after a sports massage. However, if the massage is more of a relaxation massage, then massage is able to take place right before the event. Pre-event massage is a great way to improve blood circulation and tissue elasticity. This will help to prepare the soft tissues and muscles before the big event. Pre-event massage can also help you to focus and prepare on your performance and the marathon as a whole. This will also help you to reduce the risk of injury during the big event you have been training so hard for!

More details on the types of massage and benefits of massage can be found here: 

Post-Marathon Event

Massage can ease tight muscles and fascia and it surely improves recovery time and aid in the healing and recovery process.

Lauren providing sports massage for runners at an event in Cornwall


You can book your sports massage or  online sports therapy assessment with Lauren in Truro, Cornwall here.